Franchise Mode – Play The Game Or The Game Will Play You

It really doesn’t matter which sports game you are playing. The moment you start Franchise Mode you had better be ready to make some moves in your omniscient role as owner/general manager/coach/manager/player. If you aren’t controlling every team in the mode you will see the CPU make some trades and sign some players that cause you to wonder if there was a glitch in The Matrix.

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I recently started a new Franchise Mode in MLB The Show 18 with the Orioles and had planned on going through the season with the primary roster from a combination of my NoobTubeTV Roster and OSFM. Once I made it out of Spring Training I thought I was ready to rock. I was going to set up a trade block just in case a team wanted to make an offer for a few of my players. I decided to take a look at the Transactions section just to see if any moves had been made by the CPU. There were a couple… but one made me rethink my entire approach.

MLB 18 Trade Reds

The Reds traded away their top prospect, Nick Senzel. Not only did they trade their top prospect with ‘A’ Potential, but they traded him in the division to the Cardinals for a first basemen in Rangel Ravelo that is 25 with ‘C’ Potential. As much as I could chalk this up to the Reds being the Reds, I had a moment that made me realize that trying to keep my roster moves ‘realistic’ would only hurt my franchise experience in the long run. This isn’t the case if the CPU keeps trades down for the most part, but when there are big trades that involve top prospects for nobodies – it’s on like Donkey Kong!

I made my own moves soon after I saw the Reds trade. Seeing that the rumors already have the Orioles shipping Manny Machado by the trade deadline this season (in real life) I decided I would pull the trigger earlier in the season – and I would add a few other players to my rebuild of Baltimore.

MLB 18 Trade Orioles

Some of the elitists on sports gaming forums would be shouting from their ivory towers as wanna-be experts that these trades would never happen. Guess what…? They did and it has been fun as hell to play my Franchise over the last few games with this remodeled Orioles team.

I managed to trade Machado, Britton, and Davis to the Rangers for Nomar Mazara, Roughned Odor and Ronald Guzman. Yes, it was a steal when it comes to obtaining young players that I be the bedrock of the Orioles for a few years. Yes, I feel like this could happen in the real world (why not?). I then also made a trade with the Nationals to bring in a prospect to eventually take over for the absense of Machado in Kieboom. You could say realistically and be correct in the statement that I basically rebuilt my entire roster during the first week.

Yup, I did – and that’s the point. Franchise Mode is YOURS. You don’t have to abide by anyone’s rules if you don’t want to. For myself, I like to play through mine like a story. I have all sorts of different ideas for how I want to see my team develop for my initial three year contract. Everyone should have the same view on their own franchise mode. I think having some house rules is always a good idea. I do have another Franchise Mode that uses my original house rules for MLB 18 (with the Reds of all teams!) and it is a great time as well.

The point of all of this…? When you play sports games from the franchise mode perspective you have to take every moment with a grain of salt. I have had all sorts of crazy things happen…

  • 700 yard passing game by DeShone Kizer
  • 5 HR game by Carlos Santana
  • The Browns won a game

The world is a crazy place. Don’t get upset when your franchise loses its mind – roll with it and make it your own crazy world.

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Madden 19 Will Continue To Be MUT Focused

For those of you that joined in my cheers about the initial announcements regarding Madden 19’s Franchise Mode – please don’t get too hyped.  If you look at the pre-order bonuses and such, this game is still obviously focused on the cash cow that is Ultimate Team.  In being focused on MUT, there are things that quite simply will NEVER change in terms of gameplay. madden 19 cover

If you watch any of the YouTubers or Twitch guys that post pack opening reactions and footage of them playing online MUT matchups you will see that there is good reason for EA Tiburon to keep the game as loose and arcade-like as possible.  I will admit, I have watched a few of the pack opening videos from various YouTube personalities and I feel like I am basically watching a hyped up commercial on EA’s Home Shopping Network.  I’m not hating on what makes these people happy or gives them YouTube success – keep doing you and get that YouTube money before they decide to find a reason to kick you off the pay platform.

What I find disconcerting is when Madden continues to push a mode that doesn’t encourage gameplay to become more realistic by default.  MUT is not and will never be a mode that encourages Tiburon to make Man to Man coverage a true representation of what we see on Sundays (Thursdays, and Monday’s) in the fall.  I can appreciate this aspect as sometimes it gets frustrating in any game to feel like you aren’t controlling the actions of the primary character at any given time.  MUT has to remain focused on player control and the arcade style that brings the money well after the game has released.

However, why is it that spin moves and jukes from players result in locked animations from tacklers three yards away?  Why do we continue to see AI make gameplay decisions that would baffle a 5 year old?  It’s a continuing sign of what EA Tiburon has a true problem replicating – 11 on 11 football.  Every time you play against a human opponent it becomes a 1 on 1 matchup, not a true football game.  Consider this the next time you switch to the DB in coverage during a long pass down the field.  Sure, it’s supposed to be a game that you play, but it doesn’t bode well for those of us that want some semblance of real football.

The spin, juke and other break tackle functions in Madden 18 were so overpowered and glitched simply from the interaction and animation system that I stopped playing the game in early December.  I played a few MUT games and even won a championship, etc.  At the end of the day, I wanted to play simulation football in CFM (OFFLINE) and I was greeted by such an artificially weak CPU opponent that I couldn’t justify booting up the game.

What do you think?  Are you a MUT player or a Sim Football purist?  Will the history dictate your purchase of Madden 19?

Madden 19 – They Finally Get It Right On Franchise Mode

After years of begging through my own little piece of the internet EA Tiburon has finally granted some of my wishes.  The release of a new trailer and information about CFM has me anxiously waiting for the game to release in August.  This is primarily due to the inclusion of editable draft classes as well as a slowly overhauled draft experience.  Add the refinements to player progression and regression and you have a mode that might keep CFM gamers interested for more than a few months.  Madden-19-Gameplay-1024x576

Here is a quick rundown of the released information on CFM.

Schemes – 

While this isn’t actually ‘new’ here are some of the factoids coming out.

  • Offense has Spread, West Coast Zone Run, West Coast Power Run, Vertical Zone Run, Vertical Power Run, Multiple Power Run, Multiple Zone Run, Run and Shoot.
  • Defense has Base 4-3, Multiple 4-3, Base 3-4, Multiple 3-4, Tampa 2, 46.
  • Players will have indicators to show scheme fit (this goes for the draft as well) which is an improvement in terms of simplification.
  • New Player Ratings will also take effect for some positions – QB has Throw Under Pressure, Break Sack, Break Tackle, WR has Short, Medium and Deep Route Running, and O Line has Run & Pass Block Power/Finesse, and Lead Block.

Archetypes – 

  • Each position has four archetypes (this is much like MLB The Show 18 in Road To The Show, for those that need a reference point)…
  • An Example = QB can be Scrambler, Strong Arm, West Coast or Field General (you will notice that these were part of scheme fits over the last couple years of Madden).
  • An archetype that matches a scheme gets an XP bonus.
  • Each Archetype has its own build under the hood to dictate ratings growth and bonuses (this will be solved on day one).
  • Some players will have multiple archetypes (unknown if this will be something a player can progress in or be customized into in draft classes, or otherwise).
  • Skill points can build any archetype, this includes building a player into the archetype you need in your scheme if he doesn’t fit at first (this seems unnecessary).
  • You can choose Team Captains, which probably means nothing in terms of actual gameplay – the players will have the patch on their jersey.  (This is another place for the implementation of my ideas come into play… see below).

Progression –

  • Players that match schemes progress faster than players that don’t match (this is a bad sign for fans of progression based on production).
  • Skill Points will give random bumps to player ratings.  This is a good thing for online leagues and for those that enjoy some semblance of balance in offline CFM.
  • You can no longer dictate player traits through XP use!!!  This is huge in terms of stopping the abuse of creating a team of under-the-hood All Stars!
  • Development no longer has ‘Slow’, but it still has Normal, Quick, Star, and Superstar.  A small amount of players are supposed to have Superstar development and it can still change from season to season.
  • Gameplanning and Training is still a thing… Why?  Who knows.  I have yet to see anyone actually use this as if it were necessary or enjoyable. (Hint to EA Tiburon – Make every game during a CFM season an event unto itself… give us a reason to gameplan or train our team to face someone like Antonio Brown, OBJ, JJ Watt, etc… then maybe we will focus on this!)
  • Regression has been changed to continue the fix from Madden 18 that saw Speed Ratings for players take a nosedive after hitting 30 years old, etc.

CUSTOM DRAFT CLASSES!!!!!!!!

  • Can you tell this is my favorite Madden news in over a decade?!
  • You can choose which draft class you want in Week 3.
  • You can use a pre-made, created, or imported draft class.
  • Determine hidden gems, etc. (This kind of thing is a possible game breaker and it makes me wish they would overhaul scouting to make it a bit more realistic and/or difficult to find a gem in late rounds.
  • The Draft presentation has been changed a bit, there will be a stage with players being introduced, which is a cool add-on.

The custom draft class feature is a huge move that truly opens the mode for more realism.  Some might say that it opens up the game for people to scope out Superstar potential or create some sort of all star class laced with a bunch of top talent.  Sure, if that is what you really want – go for it.  For those of us that want to create a better spread of talent with more realistic depth – it seems that our wishes have been granted by the CFM genie.

Some questions persist and once they can be answered they will be featured here on NoobTubeTV.

  1. Has scouting been overhauled in any way?  CFM needs to add a Scouting Department to every team just like coaches and coordinators.  I would like to see more depth in this regard and make it more like MLB The Show – whether it be a letter range, number range or a simple +/- rating for players.
  2. Player Morale and Personality needs to play a larger role.  There should be badges or sub-categories for players of all types.  Someone like Tom Brady should have ‘Leader’ and/or ‘Competitor’ qualities, Dez Bryant and Odell Beckham Jr. should have ‘Diva’ traits or the like.  It is an integral part of the game to have these types of players.  While I believe a lot of this kind of labeling would be denied by the NFLPA in terms of labeling players as anything other than a position player – it would add much needed depth.
  3. Team Schemes still need work.  The idea that a team is going to have the same desired setup for certain players at certain positions is questionable at best.  For instance, the assigning of a Left Tackle with Pass Blocking to a Vertical Zone Run scheme leaving the rest of the line as Agile is oversimplifying a scheme at best.  This also doesn’t seem to take into account whether or not a QB is left handed – the entire scheme would have to flip in this regard – have they done that?  I think not.M19_CFM_Scheme_Fit_01
  4. User Persona is something they could add to this game and almost make the suggestion for Morale and Personality a thought of the past.  Give the user a chance to choose or create a persona within the game.  Owner Mode should have labels such as Tyrant (Jerry Jones), Clueless (Jimmy Haslam), etc.  The same goes for coaches if that is the route you want to take.

As more information is released expect to find it on NTTV!

Madden 19 Franchise Mode – Only One Direction To Go

As we near the NFL Draft in a matter of days it is starting to leak out of the rumor mill that Madden will be focusing on ramping up the quality of Franchise Mode.  Hopefully this means we can expect a bit more depth in terms of how the mode is represented in a few different ways.

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Because EA is the Johnny Manziel of sports game developers.

They have tried to change how free agency works from the Auction system a few years ago to making offers before advancing and hoping the guy you wanted chose your low-ball offer.  Between bad financial logic and worse player and team logic – Madden hasn’t exactly been a beacon of realism for wanna-be GMs.

They must find a way to push gamers in this mode to eventually spend their money on veterans without looking at every 28 and 29 year old player like they are going to become Stephen Hawking at the age of 30.  Yes, there is certainly a youth movement in the thinking of NFL General Managers.  Yes, this means that drafting top talent over keeping ‘aging’ players is a common strategy.  It doesn’t mean that Madden should get a pass in making players in their late-20s and early 30s relevant in Franchise Mode.

On top of the age nosedive in terms of player ratings, the other aspect that needs the most help in Madden is the Draft and Scouting.

Scouting has quite simply been a lazy effort by the developers.  It isn’t difficult to find the superstar players later in the draft.  It isn’t hard to find the busts in the first round.  By the time you figured out the scouting dynamics in Madden 17 you were more than okay with the point reversal in Madden 18 that was supposed to make that aspect more challenging.  All you need to do is look for the first rating to be a B+ or higher and you are on your way.  It’s not rocket science… and that makes for an insanely boring experience that is arguably one of the most involved and talked about in all of sports.

They must address the lack of immersion in our experience week by week.  There is ZERO immersion in Franchise Mode from an overall league perspective.  There is no feeling for the salary cap when it comes to managing the team.  There is no excitement in Franchise Mode… NONE.  The Super Bowl has been the same stupid celebration and musical experience for years.

Madden 18 was the final straw for me as a Madden fan in a lot of ways.  It was the only Madden I have stopped playing before the Super Bowl was over.  It says more about the staying power of Franchise Mode than anything else.

Madden Ultimate Team has killed what made Madden a fun experience for those of us that don’t enjoy online sports gaming.  I am hoping that Madden 19 will make good on their chance to convince me to buy this game as a pre-order for the sake of giving my annual guides for all of you out there.

The Downfall of Potential Ratings In Sports Games

After more than a few years playing through numerous Franchise Modes in Madden, MLB The Show and NBA 2K it is apparent to me that the only truly important rating for a young player in Franchise Mode is ‘Potential’.  It is also one of the more argued about topics on sports gaming forums as well.

Madden_NFL_16

I have found that in simulating multiple seasons of MLB 18 (as well as older iterations) that the primary decider for a player becoming a superstar is potential.  It often has nothing to do with performance or statistics – take a look at the performance of some older players like Nelson Cruz as you play through a few seasons.  While they are still performing at a high level, they will suddenly see a huge drop off in ratings like contact and power as they age by a year… even if they hit 50 home runs the season before.

I have noticed that players with A potential are almost certain to be a lock for being s superstar in all three sports games.  Madden has a bad habit of making their franchise overall rating system as broken as anything else they put a number on in terms of ratings.

In the end, my view of the Potential Rating is not that it should go away completely.  I believe it needs to be molded to fit each game and sport.  Players generally fit into a few different categories of being high potential.  While Andrew Benintendi is no doubt a top level young talent, I don’t see him the same way I see Aaron Judge.  I believe that potential needs to be weighed more towards player type and player role in all sports games.

It shouldn’t be as simple as saying Player A should be a 99 Overall and Player B should be a 91 Overall in terms of potential.  There are some truly once-in-a-generation athletes like LeBron James that defy almost all limitations and are great at almost every aspect of their respective sport.

While a baseball player might look like a 5-Tool prospect, the reality of this is usually that they will be more like a 2 to hopefully 4-Tool guy.  As we play through more seasons of our favorite sports games it becomes easier to focus on the potential rating as the most important number by which we judge a player… unless you are talking about age… quite possibly the most lopsided and biased determiner of ratings decline in any version of a sports game.

Although we are able to edit the ratings of players manually in many of our Franchise Mode experiences, we shouldn’t have to take over where the number crunchers have failed us.  It is really as simple as applying a new descriptor to each player that highlights their role to a team.  This should be a fluid and dynamic description that also serves as a way to lift morale for players on the team.  I would like to see the death of potential ratings as numbers and have them become more in-tune with how we look at the changing landscape of players in every sport.

Pick Bad Teams For Franchise Mode At Your Own Peril In MLB 18

As I finished downloading the OSFM 1.5 Roster I started to think about which team I wanted to use for my initial three-year contract on MLB 18: The Show’s Franchise Mode. Most aspects of Franchise Mode are generally fun for those of us that enjoy crunching numbers in terms of which players we can afford and how we can project our team succeeding because of our prowess as a General Manager.

Josh Bell MLB 18
Josh Bell’s Lone Home Run In My Time With The Pirates (12 Games) was to the shortest part of Comerica Park. (Where Home Runs Go To Die)

I generally avoid using top-tier teams because it takes the roster building out of the game in the initial season for the most part. That left me with a few teams I wanted to test out for the sake of their stadium and the players I’d be working with.

I have no desire to use the Marlins or the Rays because I truly can’t stomach either stadium and believe that both teams should be relocated for the sake of obligation to cities that actually have good sports fans no matter how their team is doing… that’s right – ‘shots fired’.

This left me with trying the Braves, Tigers, and Pirates.

The Braves would have been a great one to use before they lost a bunch of their top prospects because they violated numerous laws in the real world. So, that means you get Freddie Freeman as your power bat and then Dansby Swanson and Ronald Acuna. Sure, two prospects that have a lot of promise is nice, but wow… the team is hot garbage outside of that.

Onward, you have the Pirates, a team that is half-gutted with a couple mediocre additions in Musgrove and Dickerson. Once you realize that the team has virtually no one that can hit for power (Josh Bell is meh…) you will see that they have even worse pitching and you are wasting valuable trade currency by keeping Marte and Harrison around. I feel the same about Romero as the closer… seriously, why would any team keep a 90+ OVR closer if they won’t win more than 70 games? This team is at least another five years away from winning in any sort of sim experience.

The Tigers… well, let’s just say that Miguel Cabrera is literally the only player worth anything to your lineup. Fulmer seems to be a shadow of his former rookie year exploits. The rest of the team and the farm system are basically a perfect personification and ‘playerfication’ for the city of Detroit. Trash is less trashy than the MLB 18 version of the Tigers. Add to it that they have a stadium that is conducive to boring baseball with the furthest Center Field wall in the MLB and no real way to rob home runs if you had a player that could jump – yeah – it’s that bad.

The only saving grace is that these teams will give you longevity in your journey to build a team from nothing. Outside of that – you will see that being a poor team in money and in performance is an aneurism waiting to happen. Well, not waiting… give it about five games – it’s a short waiting period for a video game aneurism.

Good Luck!

The Next Logical Step Is PsychoLogical – Franchise Mode’s Biggest Need

It exists in a sort of infancy stage.  Sadly, it hasn’t grown much in over a decade.  Let’s take away the possibility that player morale and attitude might be something that Player Unions don’t allow.  (I have grown to believe that sports game developers have been denied the ability to give attributes for attitude, motivations and other psychological aspects to real players in their games – this is by no means a researched fact, but simply  my opinion.)

Madden 2005 had player morale and contract holdouts.  They have since done away with that aspect… no one is shocked.  MLB The Show has an entire section for player morale where they give happy or sad faces for anything from salary happiness to location happiness and some others.  This is a good step, but they haven’t developed it much beyond making it accessible and fun to look at for those of us that long for depth and story to drive our experience as a way to pursue longevity in franchise mode.  This isn’t the point of the article today.  The point of this is to give some solid input towards making Franchise Mode a truly great experience that will go for multiple seasons.

User Psychology 

The first aspect I believe should be considered in any franchise mode is how the user develops their in-game character as an Owner, GM, or coach.  Your choices to trade star players for prospects should effect everything from the morale of other existing players on your team to the coaching staff and even other players in coming seasons as you go through free agency.  I would love to see this in order to make users take the concept of trades with a grain of salt.  If the user makes these moves and signs certain players with ability that also lack productive morale it should reflect in contract negotiations and even bench player morale.

It’s time to make a connection between the user and the team they are running.  I think it might even be effective to implement more of the media questions that Madden has at certain points of the season, but make them into multiple interactions that start with an interview to get a baseline of your psyche as you begin the franchise.

A Real Story Mode

While I’m not asking for something like the Madden Longshot or the NBA 2K Story Modes I do think there is value in developing a story or a world to surround your franchise mode.  Even if this world exists soley in your head, it is something that I believe adds to the experience.

Agents

I don’t think it would take much to implement this to go along with Morale.  It might even be an easy way to get around my theory that actual players don’t want a game to say they have ‘bad attitudes’ or that they ‘only care about money’.  Let the morale take effect with team management, player performance, coach decisions, etc.  That leaves a lot of interactions and fun to be had with fictionalized agents and agencies.

These are just a few ideas, but it’s about time we start demanding more depth to a mode that continues to grow stale with every year that Ultimate Team, Diamond Dynasty and such.